chol·​la | \ ˈchȯi-yə How to pronounce cholla (audio) \

Definition of cholla

: any of numerous shrubby opuntias chiefly of the southwestern U.S. and Mexico that have needlelike spines partly enclosed in a papery sheath and cylindrical joints

called also cholla cactus

Illustration of cholla

Illustration of cholla

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A shrubby cactus chiefly of the southwestern United States and Mexico, a cholla has cylindrical joints and needlelike spines partly enclosed in a papery sheath. Chollas vary greatly in size and have small flowers that are sometimes yellow-green and inconspicuous, but usually of more striking colors. One cholla, the desert Christmas cactus, bears bright red fruits through the winter. Living plants serve as food for desert animals. Cholla wood, a hollow cylinder with regularly spaced holes, is used for fuel and decorative novelties. Some cholla fruit is edible.

Examples of cholla in a Sentence

Recent Examples on the Web Different varieties of the drought-tolerant plant, such as the barrel, saguaro and cholla, can be stewed, pickled, juiced, or even eaten fresh (like dragon fruit), and are a good source of water, fiber and vitamins. Emily Matchar, Smithsonian Magazine, 12 July 2022 Here and elsewhere in the Phoenix region, keep an eye out for teddy-bear cholla. Outside Online, 1 Apr. 2021 This warmup segment is followed by a 0.4-mile hike on the Goldmine Trail, which undulates through drainages and cholla forests before arriving at the junction with the San Tan Trail, where Goldmine begins its strenuous uphill haul. Mare Czinar, The Arizona Republic, 14 Mar. 2022 One 2018 study conducted by researchers at the University of Illinois found that a single spine from a similar type of cactus, the cholla, could lift a half-pound piece of pork (shudder!). Aliese Willard Muhonen, Los Angeles Times, 6 May 2022 Keep an eye out for the foundations of the defunct Spur Cross dude ranch crumbling among cholla and creosote shrubs. Mare Czinar, The Arizona Republic, 5 Feb. 2022 The outlaw and the outcast have always found a home among the yucca and cholla in the desert sprawl of Palm Springs. Margaret Wappler, Los Angeles Times, 8 July 2021 Following an old dirt road, the trail wanders through classic Sonoran Desert vegetation dominated by turpentine bushes, cholla, yuccas, mesquite trees and colorful spots of wildflowers. Mare Czinar, The Arizona Republic, 28 Oct. 2021 Teddy bear, or jumping, cholla also thrive in California, particularly in deserts and desert gardens. Los Angeles Times, 15 July 2021 See More

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'cholla.' Views expressed in the examples do not represent the opinion of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback.

First Known Use of cholla

1846, in the meaning defined above

History and Etymology for cholla

Mexican Spanish, from Spanish, head

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Last Updated

23 Jul 2022

Cite this Entry

“Cholla.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 9 Aug. 2022.

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